Terry Kennedy Recovers from Shooting to Become Leading Black Skateboarder

By Paul Hirsch

There is nothing quite like being shot in the jaw to raise one’s profile. In the case of Terry Kennedy, it helped raise the profile of skateboarding in general and Black skateboarders in particular.

In June 2005 Kennedy was shot twice while leaving a party in Long Beach, Calif. One shot was to the jaw, the other to a forearm. The assailant has never been found, and it is unknown if Kennedy was a target or just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Since that day, Kennedy has made a cameo appearance in Snoop Dogg’s chart topping song “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” as well appearing in the video for Mistah Fab’s song “Ghost Ride It.” Kennedy has also been featured on ABC Family’s show, “Switched.” He is in the video games Skate and Skate 3 and this year has been featured in his own reality show on BET called “Being Terry Kennedy.”

Kennedy says that before he was shot, skateboarding was just a hobby. “I was just treatin’ it like a hobby… Then, when I got shot I was like, Man, this is… f***ed. I gotta start skatin’ like my life depended on it. Like, I promised God, if I stay on this board I’m not gonna look in no other direction, but what I need to do on this board and [start] moving forward in life? So I just stayed on it.”

From there, Kennedy was chosen for the prestigious Pharrell Ice Cream skating team. “(Hip-hop producer) Pharrell (Williams) has always been a big fan of skateboarding, so I guess it only made sense for him to put a team together. He put his brother on the team and started asking people around, I wanna get a couple more Black male skaters…and my name happened to come up. I was still on Vans at the time [but told] him my contract would be up in a couple months … and sure enough, he gave me a call within like three months and started making everything happen.”

Kennedy is now listed as the number one Black skateboarder in the U.S., according to voters at The Top Tens. Other Black skateboarders recognized include Stevie Williams, Lupe Fiasco, Kareem Campbell and Bastien Salabanza. These skaters inspire young African Americans to be daring and cool, and some, like Kennedy, are able to branch out and take advantage of opportunities in the entertainment industry. So far, though, only Kennedy had to go through a shooting to get serious about his boarding.

The sport has grown by leaps and bounds this century, as young Blacks appreciate the skill, the daring beauty of boarding, and that the sport is more than just Shaun White winning at the X Games as “The Flying Tomato.”

“Growing up in NYC I only saw one Black person skateboarding. He went to school in ‘Cali’ and when he came for vacation one summer he brought his board. The neighborhood kids including myself looked at him craze,” said a poster on afropunk.com. “Like what are you doing on a board, that White folk’s sport? Now of days I realize the new generation is picking up the board and skating through the streets likes it’s nothing. I realize the new culture of Blacks is so open minding to trying out new things and making the old generation (re-evaluate) their way of thinking.”

Boarding is cool in our community, and athletes and entertainers like Kennedy are helping to raise the profile of Black skateboarders.

Hirsch is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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